Learn about the benefits, costs, and process of starting a foundation.

Starting a Foundation – Nonprofit Catalog

Starting a private foundation provides a lasting opportunity for philanthropists to donate consistently to a nonprofit and make an impact on causes they’re passionate about. If you’re considering starting a foundation or want to learn more about them, we’ll cover the basics and discuss all the important elements you’ll need to consider before diving into the process.

What is a foundation?

Instead of collecting donations from individual donors to launch their own programs and initiatives, private foundations act as the donors by giving grants to other nonprofit organizations to fund their operations. They can also provide scholarships to individuals in certain circumstances. 

Foundations are private 501(c)(3) organizations, meaning they operate independently from the government but still retain a nonprofit tax-exempt status. To qualify as a private foundation, organizations must have a defined purpose, such as:

  • Charitable
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Religious
  • Literary

Foundations are often started by a family or small group of people with a shared charitable interest, but they can also be started by a corporation. For example, Google provides grants for nonprofits for free advertising space to help them get their message out to wider audiences.

How do you decide to start a foundation?

Before making the decision to start your own foundation, do extensive research on the process and legal requirements. Evaluate both the benefits and costs of starting a foundation, and take stock of your existing resources. Consider the following information while deciding if you should start a foundation: 

What are the benefits of starting a private foundation?

Individuals and companies start foundations for a variety of reasons, but all foundations offer the unique ability to: 

  • Create a significant and long-lasting personal impact on the causes you care about.
  • Honor an individual or your family by creating a legacy foundation in their name.
  • Maintain legal control over your operations.
  • Access tax benefits, including tax-exempt status for your organization and individual tax deductions.

Consider how much you value each of these benefits and if you would be able to reap similar benefits from donating to nonprofits alone. 

Starting a foundation allows you to make a lasting impact and maintain control over your operations

How much money is needed to start a foundation?

Private foundations obtain funds directly from an individual, family, or corporation, instead of from a pool of individual donors. Therefore, to start a corporation, you need to have a sizable amount of funding available in your budget to set up the foundation’s endowment. Endowments are the funds your foundation uses to make grants and cover operating costs.

How to start a foundation

Ready to dive deeper? If you’ve determined that you have the resources, passion, and commitment to start your own, follow these steps for starting a foundation:

  1. Define your mission and goals. Determine a clear purpose for your foundation and exactly who you want to help. Think about what you want to accomplish and what types of organizations you want to fund. 
  2. Understand legal requirements and regulations. Research the difference between trusts and nonprofit corporations and what’s needed to establish each. Then, decide which type of foundation best fits your needs and goals. Generally, trusts have less legal requirements, but nonprofit corporations offer more flexibility. You may decide to hire a dedicated legal team to advise you on complex legal and financial matters.
  3. Identify potential trustees and staff. How personally involved do you want to be in your foundation’s day-to-day operations? Identify qualified staff members to help you run your foundation, along with the individuals who will serve as trustees. 
  4. Apply to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), then apply to become a 501(c)(3) organization. You’ll need to complete both of these formal applications to obtain your foundation’s legal 501(c)(3) status before you begin making grants. 
  5. Set guidelines for using your endowment. Determine internal requirements for how your foundation will invest its endowment funds. For example, consider setting an annual minimum amount of funds that should stay in your endowment and a minimum amount that should be given out as grants.

Once you’ve set up your foundation legally, you can start getting familiar with the grantmaking process and considering how you want your foundation to appear to the public. Follow similar strategies for branding and marketing as other nonprofits use to ensure a positive, authentic reputation. 

Additional Resources

Learn what a nonprofit investment policy is and what to include in yours.

Nonprofit Investment Policy – Nonprofit Catalog

A nonprofit investment policy is the first step your organization should take before investing its reserve money. Creating a comprehensive investment plan will provide a clear roadmap and create continuity between your teams, ensuring that everyone’s on the same page about how to grow your funds.

If you’re creating a new investment policy or want to overhaul your existing document, we’ll make sure you understand the basic building blocks first!

What Is a Nonprofit Investment Policy?

A nonprofit investment policy is a document that outlines how an organization can invest the funds it raises responsibly. Think of it as a roadmap for your investment portfolio, guiding you toward smarter and more ethical financial management. It specifies the risks you’re willing to take, delegates responsibilities, and establishes investment objectives and guidelines.

An investment policy is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of document. Rather, you’ll need to regularly revisit it, making sure it continues to reflect your nonprofit’s priorities and needs year after year.

Why Do You Need a Nonprofit Investment Policy?

Just as there are several components to investing your reserve funds, there are also several reasons why you should invest them. For one, charitable giving is on the rise and increased an incredible 4.2% last year, according to fundraising research. Now more than ever, your nonprofit needs to curate strategies for making the most of those funds. That way, you’ll be in great shape to save what you need to take your mission to the next level.

More specifically, Infinite Giving’s guide to nonprofit investing outlines three primary reasons why nonprofits should invest their reserves and create a foolproof policy to guide their investments.

A solid nonprofit investment policy can help you:

  1. Save for the long term. Your reserves may be actively losing value if they’re sitting in a simple money market, CD, or savings account. Having an investment account along with a strong policy can allow you to grow your rainy-day funds. In other words, you don’t have to spend the money right away and won’t have to worry about inflation impacting your revenue. Then, when you do need to tap into these funds, they’ll be right there waiting for you.
  2. Build your nonprofit’s assets. Maybe you have a large project, like a capital campaign or a new program, that needs financial backing. Growing your reserves is a smart way to increase your spending power.
  3. Secure large gifts and grants. Grants Plus’ guide to grant management explains that “funders want and need to ensure that the grants they award will actually be put to their intended uses, create sustainable changes, and follow their stipulated requirements.” In other words, grantmakers and major donors want to make sure your nonprofit is a responsible steward of money. A strong investment plan can indicate that your organization’s financial standing is in good health and that you have a solid strategy for achieving your mission. Plus, an investment account will make it easier for you to accept large non-cash donations, like stocks, endowments, and cryptocurrency.

As you can see, there are multiple reasons why nonprofits should create an investment policy and open an investment account. Sound financial management practices can ultimately empower you to pursue your mission more effectively over the long run.

The Core Components of Nonprofit Investment Policies

As we mentioned, creating an official policy is vital before you actually start investing your funds. Note that your specific approach to creating your investment policy can vary based on your timeline, risk tolerance, and current assets. However, there are several components that any nonprofit investment policy should have, including:

  • Delegated responsibilities. List the specific roles, responsibilities, and limitations of anyone responsible for overseeing and handling your investment portfolio. This might pertain to your executive director, board of directors, oversight committee, and other stakeholders.
  • Goals. Clearly define your investment portfolio’s objectives, including factors like potential risk allowed.
  • Guidelines for investing. Cover which types of investment vehicles are allowed, as well as which ones are prohibited. You’ll also want to include target percentages for each type.
  • Reserve expenditures. Add guidelines for how your nonprofit reserve funds can be spent, reasons why funds can be withdrawn, and how much can be withdrawn.
  • Donor restrictions. Include a statement expressing that the investment committee agrees to any stipulations donors give regarding how their donations can be invested.
  • Reporting standards. Define the metrics and frequency at which your board members will measure performance.
This chart breaks down the components of a nonprofit investment policy.

A lot goes into creating an investment policy for your nonprofit. Fitting these puzzle pieces together will give you a solid foundation for moving forward. Just make sure to treat your policy as a living document that you regularly revisit and update based on organizational changes.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

How to Accept Stock Donations: The Ultimate Nonprofit Guide – Thinking of accepting stock donations to strengthen your sources of revenue? Check out this guide to learn how to accept stock donations and why it’s worthwhile.

Nonprofit Fundraising Training: FAQs and 8 Top Resources – Improve your financial literacy and strengthen your fundraising strategies with these training tips and suggestions!

Discover how your organization can use nonprofit marketing to further its mission.

How to Use Nonprofit Marketing – Nonprofit Catalog

Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations around the world depend on marketing to communicate with their donors or customers. Strong marketing allows organizations to create meaningful touchpoints with new audiences. One of the reasons marketing is such a powerful tool is that it’s highly adaptable to your organization’s needs.

Without marketing, it would be very difficult to connect with the people who share an interest in your nonprofit’s mission. Cultivating that base of support is essential. Donors, volunteers, and mission ambassadors are the foundation of a successful nonprofit.

Let’s get started by discussing how nonprofits can use different marketing channels to reach their audiences.

What is nonprofit marketing?

Nonprofit marketing is using marketing strategies and campaigns to raise awareness, reach existing and prospective donors, and fundraise to help an organization further its mission.

Marketing can be carried out through a variety of media channels. Social media platforms, email, and video ads are a few ways messages can be distributed online. The internet is one of the most common ways to reach supporters, but don’t discount the value of other channels as well. Nonprofits also find success running campaigns through other channels like direct mail, radio ads, or print ads. The specific channels you choose to employ depend on your audience and your goals for the campaign.

The most effective way to leverage marketing is by creating one integrated marketing strategy so your organization can reach its supporters across a variety of channels. This approach is also helpful for pinpointing the channels your supporters use the most.

What are the benefits of nonprofit marketing?

While marketing can be a significant investment of time, effort, and funding for many nonprofits, it also provides a wide variety of benefits to both the nonprofit and those they serve. Let’s dive into a few reasons marketing is valuable.

Nonprofit marketing can help:

  • Spread awareness. Nonprofit marketing spreads awareness of a nonprofit’s mission, its brand, and the specific ways it furthers its mission. It’s a chance to directly communicate what your organization does and why. Just increasing the number of people who are aware of the organization can attract new donors and volunteers, and this is especially true when considering the international reach of digital marketing.
  • Raise funds. More awareness means an organization has a better chance of attracting new donors and volunteers, increasing an organization’s ability to meet its fundraising goals. Marketing is also a useful way to engage current donors and volunteers, motivating them to continue to support your organization. Promoting a specific fundraiser through sending an email or by posting on social media to existing followers is one example of how you might make the most of your nonprofit’s marketing efforts.
  • Promote programs. Marketing doesn’t just reach the donors and volunteers who help further your nonprofit’s mission. It can also be used to directly reach potential beneficiaries the organization might be able to help. Marketing materials can contain information about specific programs and how those in need can take advantage of them

Intentionally crafting a marketing strategy for your organization sets your organization up for success by giving you the means to attract and retain supporters.

This flowchart lists the steps needed to get started with nonprofit marketing.

How can organizations get started with nonprofit marketing?

Don’t let getting started with nonprofit marketing overwhelm you. Gaining a better understanding of your audience gives you the tools to implement a valuable plan. To kick off a successful nonprofit marketing campaign, there are a few key steps to follow:

  1. Research. Organizations should make sure they understand important internal and external factors before planning a marketing campaign. This involves analyzing the current market landscape as well as looking into peer organizations to understand their strengths and weaknesses. As part of this evaluation, nonprofits should also take stock of their existing donors’ traits to create a better constituent experience through a more personalized marketing experience.
  2. Define a target audience. After researching their existing donors, nonprofits should compare this donor data against their goals in order to choose a target audience that is interested in their cause. This is a good way to spur an organization’s expansion and growth.
  3. Develop strategies. Choose strategies that resonate with your nonprofit’s chosen target audience. Determine which channels will suit your target audience and choose which mediums will speak most to them. Consider methods such as emotional photos or videos, impactful statistics, and storytelling.
  4. Create the campaign. During this step, your nonprofit should create concrete deliverables that align with the strategies you outlined earlier in the campaign. This might mean creating pieces of direct mail or graphics for social media, for example.

Consider working with a marketing agency that specializes in helping nonprofits. Partnering with an agency with knowledgeable staff and years of expertise in marketing can help you create a strong marketing campaign that will deliver impactful results.

Meaningful Nonprofit Marketing

Nonprofit marketing is an essential part of maintaining and growing a nonprofit. It allows organizations to reach their intended audiences, leading to more donors, volunteers, and supporter engagement. Organizations should take the time to learn more about their field and intended audience so they can use that information to create a robust strategy and meaningful marketing campaign.

This valuable tool is accessible to almost every organization. Nonprofits of any size can use marketing, which might look like launching a free social media campaign or working with an agency to market on every available channel. Marketing at any capacity can help your organization grow and reach new supporters.

Additional Resources

Learn the basics of nonprofit endowments and how investing can support your nonprofit.

Nonprofit Endowment – Nonprofit Catalog

For many nonprofit professionals, endowments can seem like a tricky subject, causing them to veer away from creating this type of fund.

And though they’re often managed by universities and other large organizations with sizable donor pools, nonprofit endowments aren’t just for wealthy organizations. In fact, professionals at small and mid-sized nonprofits can also boost the sustainability of their work when they take the time to learn about smart fundraising strategies like managing an endowment.

We’ll explore the basics of developing and managing a nonprofit endowment fund for any-sized nonprofit.

What Is a Nonprofit Endowment?

A nonprofit endowment is a pool of donations set aside and invested, allowing it to grow and financially support the work of a philanthropic organization. After the seed money (i.e. the principal) is invested, part of the earnings is paid out as an annual distribution.

Educational institutions, religious organizations, and social-service organizations all use this type of investment fundraising to grow their assets. These funds can be used for a range of purposes, such as:

Unlike your reserve fund, endowments are planned to be grown rather than spent in full. With an endowment, your initial investment amount will stay intact and growing.

Types of Nonprofit Endowments

We can categorize nonprofit endowments into different types depending on how they can be used. Infinite Giving’s guide to nonprofit endowments breaks them down into these five categories:

These are the five different types of nonprofit endowments.
  • Unrestricted endowments aren’t subject to any restrictions regarding how and when they can be used. As the most common type of endowment, unrestricted endowments allow you to use funds whenever and wherever it’s needed most.
  • Permanently restricted (or true) endowments are subject to restrictions that never end. The principal and its earnings can only be used for the specific purpose the donor defines.
  • Temporarily restricted (or term) endowments are similar to true endowments, except that restrictions only exist for a limited period of time. During that time, funds from these endowments are subject to conditions the donor places, such as what it can be spent on. After the term expires, the principal and interest money may be used without restrictions.
  • Quasi endowments are created by the organization’s board of directors via a transfer of reserve funds. The board sets stipulations regarding when the principal amount and any earnings can be withdrawn.
  • Micro-endowments are small endowments that make endowment giving more accessible to donors. When managed effectively, micro-endowments can grow substantially and fund salaries and programs just like any other endowment.

When looking at these options, consider which types will best support your nonprofit’s needs. For instance, smaller organizations may lean into micro-endowments, attracting a range of donors.

What to Consider Before Starting a Nonprofit Endowment

Smart investment strategies can strengthen your nonprofit’s sustainability. However, there are a few aspects you’ll want to consider before committing to this approach to investing.

Benefits of Endowments for Nonprofits

Organizations of all sizes turn to this type of fundraising and for good reason. Creating an endowment for your nonprofit provides you with a stable source of income, taking the pressure off your team to meet your minimum budgetary needs. You’ll be able to grow your assets alongside your general annual fundraising practices.

Benefits of Endowments for Donors

Just as organizations are drawn to this type of fundraising, nonprofit endowments attract major donors as well. For one, it gives donors a way to stay connected with your cause over time.

What’s more, micro-endowments are a great way to attract low and mid-level donors who want to deepen their engagement with your cause. As with any donation, donors can also typically claim their endowment gift on their tax deductions.

When it comes to true and term endowments, donors have more control over their gifts. They can be confident that their funds are going to the programs they’re most passionate about.


As with any fundraising strategy, there are some challenges you’ll want to think through before diving headfirst into endowment fundraising, including:

  • Managing a nonprofit endowment might not be financially viable if you have an immediate need for funds.
  • There’s an inherent risk when it comes to investing, so you might choose to keep part of your endowment as cash reserves.
  • You might need to outsource management to a professional investment manager or invest in in-depth fundraising training.

Luckily, modern tools that streamline investment processes have revolutionized the nonprofit world, making it easy to overcome these challenges without breaking the bank. Backed by the right tools, you can accept and manage your endowment donations with confidence.

How to Start an Endowment for Nonprofits

Follow these steps to start a nonprofit endowment.

You’ve weighed the pros and cons of starting a nonprofit endowment and decided it’s a smart move for your team. Great!

Now, it’s time to take the next step and actually create your endowment. To make sure that it meets your organization’s needs and goals, follow these steps:

  1. Craft your endowment policies. Define the endowment’s purpose, what it’ll be used for, what type of endowment it is, how it’ll be funded, and how funds will be invested and managed.
  2. Gain buy-in from your board. Your board is responsible for setting your organization’s strategic direction and ensuring proper fund management. Present your policies and explain how a nonprofit endowment can fit into your financial strategies.
  3. Choose an investment platform. An investment platform can simplify endowments significantly, enabling you to accept and invest endowment donations. Choose a provider with secure management tools, an easy-to-use interface, and trustworthy services from a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).
  4. Set up an endowment fund. Create an account with your provider. You’ll likely need to share your application, Articles of Incorporation, and 501(c)(3) IRS Determination Letter. Once they activate your account, you can select a portfolio and your annual disbursement.

From here, you’re ready to market the opportunity to donors and start accepting donations. Your giving platform will handle the heavy lifting, so you can focus on engaging donors and soliciting gifts.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

How to Accept Stock Donations: The Ultimate Nonprofit Guide – Investment fundraising is an incredible opportunity for nonprofits. Start accepting stock donations by following the guidance in this article!

Managing Nonprofit Reserve Funds: The Ultimate Guide – Explore this guide to make sure you’re prepared to weather financial setbacks by properly managing your reserve funds.

Learn how email appends help keep supporters' contact information up to date.

Email Appends — Nonprofit Catalog

With an estimated return of $36 for every $1 spent, email has an unbeatable ROI compared to other marketing channels. This channel allows you to connect with your entire contact list, create personalized outreach through segmentation, and ultimately push your mission to new heights. But to leverage this marketing channel, you need the right email addresses first.

An email append will allow you to find the most accurate contact information for everyone in your contact list. That way, your messages are delivered to your supporters’ inboxes successfully. There’s an entire world of data appending, but we’ll focus on how appending email addresses specifically can enhance your marketing.

What Is An Email Append?

Email appending is a marketing process that requires using known constituent data (such as names, phone numbers, and social profiles) to identify individuals’ current email addresses.

Using an email append services provider is the most efficient, reliable way for digital marketers to verify and update email addresses for their contacts. Professional providers have access to large databases of contact information. You’ll share your constituents’ data with the provider, which they’ll then use to match each individual to their most recent email addresses.

Why Should You Append Emails?

Email addresses are only beneficial if they’re accurate. Otherwise, your messages won’t be successfully delivered to supporters’ inboxes.

HubSpot estimates that email marketing databases degrade by about 22.5% every year. People occasionally make typos or use fake email addresses when filling out forms. Plus, your supporters may get locked out of their emails, change emails, or pass away. Appending emails is the most reliable way to correct any mistakes and fill in gaps within your contact list.

Email marketing databases degrade by about 22.5% every year due to typos, people changing their emails, and other factors.

Ensuring updated contact information will also enable you to:

  • Increase your deliverability and open rates.
  • Re-engage lapsed donors you’ve lost contact with.
  • Reduce manual labor necessary to correct incorrect emails.
  • Protect your IP sender reputation. Outdated email addresses are often reclaimed and used as spam traps, which can result in you getting added to a blocklist if you’re not careful.

Regularly appending emails will enrich your database, empowering your team to reach and retain your supporters. Depending on your data append provider, you might also be able to pull other helpful information, like social profiles, postal addresses, and employer data. In turn, you’ll create stronger contact profiles and open your team up to additional engagement opportunities.

Best Practices for Email Appends

Having accurate contact information is only useful if you have a solid plan for pulling and leveraging it in your marketing. Start outlining your approach for ethically appending and using the updated contact information you’ll receive. Let’s look at a few tips for getting started!

Only append emails for existing supporters.

NPOInfo’s guide to email appends states, “You should only ever append email addresses for people who have previously connected with your organization, whether they donated, signed up for your newsletter, or registered to volunteer. You want to make sure you’re leveraging email appending ethically.”

Pulling contact information for people who have never even heard of your organization can damage your reputation. So stick to only doing so for past and existing supporters.

Follow anti-spam laws.

On the topic of ethical marketing practices, make sure to respect when supporters opt out of your email communications. After all, anti-spam laws and opt-in rules still apply when you append emails.

If you send emails to people who opted out of or never signed up for your email list, you can wind up in some serious legal trouble. So before reaching out to any emails you appended, double-check that those individuals opted into your email communications. Otherwise, you risk damaging your reputation and relationships with supporters.

Regularly conduct email appends.

Get on a good schedule with your email appends, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. This will make sure your CRM is always as complete and accurate as it can possibly be. Your organization’s off-season is the perfect time for this.

Let’s say you’re ramping up for a big fundraising campaign. The last thing you want is a sky-high bounce rate due to inaccurate email addresses. Before you launch your campaign, devote time to conducting email appends. Aim to wrap up about a month before your initiative’s official launch, giving your team plenty of wiggle room to get everything squared away.

Know how different types of organizations leverage email appends.

As with any marketing practice, it’s best to tailor your email append strategy to your organization’s priorities. At the very least, you should follow up with anyone you’ve been unable to reach via email once you receive your results.

Beyond this, Double the Donation’s email appends guide highlights these examples that you can emulate:

Different organizations benefit from email appends in different ways.
  • Environmental nonprofits can align their marketing practices with their mission. Eliminate unnecessary paper waste and opt for eco-friendly email outreach.
  • Schools can stay connected with alumni as they acquire new email addresses from new jobs and graduate schools.
  • Cultural organizations like aquariums, zoos, and museums can send new exhibit and event information to members and past visitors.
  • Political organizations can email information about important issues, allowing voters to review the information on their own time rather than texting or talking on the phone.
  • Any nonprofit can use business email appends to identify corporate giving opportunities.

Knowing how your organization will leverage contact information will empower you to make the most of your appended email addresses. Think carefully about your plans ahead of time, so you can start reaching out as soon as you receive your email append results.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

Phone Appends: A Nonprofit’s Data Enrichment Guide – You can append contact information other than email addresses. Build out your supporters’ profiles by appending phone numbers, too. This guide covers everything you need to know.

The Beginner’s Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Marketing – Learn how to create a foolproof marketing plan and make the most out of your appended email addresses.

Digital Marketing for Nonprofits – Nonprofit Catalog

Reaching people who align with your nonprofit’s message is key to being able to carry out your mission. Doing that can be easier said than done, but thankfully nonprofits have a range of tools at their disposal. Meeting your organization’s needs in this area can take many forms, but one of the easiest and most effective of these forms is digital marketing. If you aren’t tech-savvy, no worries – we’ve got you covered. Let’s explore the fundamentals of digital marketing for nonprofits so you can reach supporters near and far.

What is digital marketing for nonprofits?

According to Fifty & Fifty, digital marketing for nonprofits is the use of online channels to spread your nonprofit’s mission and attract supporters to your cause.

Why is digital marketing important?

Digital marketing allows you to spread the word about your mission past the bounds of your local community. It lets you reach like-minded people and potential supporters who may not have otherwise found your nonprofit. The ability to raise awareness online for your cause means that you can tap into networks of people who might be able to support you in a multitude of ways, such as volunteering, donating, and advocating for your cause. Beyond individual donors, digital marketing can also connect you with purpose-driven partners in the for-profit sector who are eager to engage in CSR partnerships.

How is digital marketing for nonprofits unique?

Unlike for-profit brands, digital branding for nonprofits should be centered around your mission and helping your beneficiaries. Your goal is to help viewers understand why your mission is important so that they want to get involved with your organization, so make sure to focus the attention on your beneficiaries instead of your staff or board members. After gaining their permission, be sure to feature photos and stories from your beneficiaries.

Graphic of the components of digital marketing discussed in the article

What are the components of digital marketing?

Digital marketing can be broken into the following components:

Graphic design

Getting viewers to pause and take in information can be challenging when the online world is so cluttered. You want people to stop long enough to take in the information your materials are conveying. That’s why including visually attractive and streamlined brand elements in your digital marketing is essential. Also, having a consistent aesthetic across all of your materials will boost brand awareness in your community. Use the same colors and fonts on all of your materials, from your logo to your donation page to your branded merchandise.

Digital Presence

Getting your audience’s attention is also a matter of getting in front of them more than once and keeping them engaged. If you keep showing up in front of viewers, they’re more likely to have their curiosity piqued and engage with your content or click through to your website. Make consistent profiles on social media, make a website with blogs, and produce other resources that your intended audience might be interested in.

Online Advertising

There are numerous ways you can approach online advertising, meaning that you can tailor your efforts to your organization’s specific needs, audience, and budget. Google Ad Grants for nonprofits is a great way to get started or boost your digital marketing efforts.

Web design

Make sure your website is educational, accessible, intuitively designed, and fast. These components will also help your website rank highly on the search engine results page, which will ultimately help you funnel visitors to your content and your mission.

How do we get started?

If you’re new to digital marketing and branding, consider working with a digital marketing agency for nonprofits. They’ll use their expertise in the nonprofit sector to craft a winning digital marketing approach that centers around your mission.

When brainstorming your digital marketing strategy, start by reviewing the basics, adding your organization’s unique branding, and identifying your ideal digital channels. Once you put it all together, you’ll be on your way to reaching new audiences online.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Catalog – Read more about essential nonprofit topics in our Nonprofit Catalog.

Nonprofit Newsletter Template for Nonprofit Marketers – Learn more about how to write a newsletter, a cornerstone of nonprofit digital marketing.

The Beginner’s Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Marketing – Check out this ultimate guide to get a general overview of nonprofit marketing.

Graphic of person carrying a purple gift

Year-End Giving – Nonprofit Catalog

Most nonprofits earn a significant amount of their annual revenue during the last months (if not the last few days) of the year. According to NPOInfo, nonprofits receive 17-22% of their total annual fundraising in December. If you also factor in Giving Tuesday, it’s obvious that organizations need to have solid plans in place for approaching donors toward the end of the year to secure the necessary funding.

Creating an effective giving strategy requires knowing why supporters are motivated to give. If you understand that piece of the puzzle, along with how to make a reasonable ask, you can use it to target your efforts in more specific ways. Honing in on this information will help you run successful fundraisers all year and figure out how to make the most of year-end giving.

What is year-end giving?

Year-end giving is the spike in charitable giving that happens during the last few months of the year. Since people are often more willing to give during this time, in part because of the holidays, it’s a good opportunity for nonprofits to take some extra time to refine their messaging strategy. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Giving Tuesday, has proven to be a particularly fruitful donation day in the past few years.

Graphic noting the ways the article says nonprofits can prepare for the year-end giving season

How can my nonprofit prepare for the year-end giving season?

It’s never too early to prepare for the year-end giving season. Having a solid strategy in place will allow your organization to see greater success while experiencing less last-minute stress. Let’s dive into a few ways your nonprofit can prepare.

Create a multichannel strategy.

Use multichannel marketing to communicate with supporters on multiple platforms such as email, social media, text, direct mail, and more. Spreading your message across multiple platforms helps you reach different audiences and build brand awareness. It also creates more touchpoints with supporters who encounter multiple messages on different platforms, providing more opportunities for them to act on one of your calls-to-action.

You can begin building your nonprofit’s digital strategy by:

  • Putting together a uniform brand guide ahead of time.
  • Creating a social media posting calendar.
  • Refreshing your website in advance.
  • Personalizing online communication.

Finding effective ways to reach your supporters online can elevate your organization’s fundraising efforts. This is especially true since the #GivingTuesday trend began, boosting the visibility of nonprofits and charitable giving near the end of the year.

Partner with a marketing consultant.

If you’re interested in trying a new marketing strategy for the year-end giving season, consider partnering with a nonprofit marketing consultant. Hiring an expert in the space will provide access to professional insights into your current fundraising strategies and help your team navigate the challenges associated with running a new fundraiser.

A marketing consultant will also be able to analyze and offer a customized approach for your organization.

Train your fundraising team.

Staying up to date on current trends in the nonprofit sector can help your organization raise funds in new and profitable ways. Working with your team to improve their fundraising skills prior to the year-end giving season can help your nonprofit secure more gifts and successfully follow up with donors at the start of the new year.

Encourage your team to attend relevant nonprofit webinars, listen to professional nonprofit podcasts, and take courses to improve their fundraising skills. Attending conferences prior to the year-end giving season can also be an accessible way to learn about ongoing developments in the nonprofit world.

Additional Resources

A nonprofit marketing plans will help you create cohesive messages.

Nonprofit Marketing Plan – Nonprofit Catalog

Nonprofits are challenged to do more with less. For marketers in particular, you’re tasked with finding the proper channels and developing powerful messages to amplify your organization’s work — all while battling limited resources. A formal nonprofit marketing plan gives you clear guidance on achieving that.

We’ll look at the components of a nonprofit marketing plan, giving you exact steps for outlining your own. You’ll have everything you need to develop a holistic marketing strategy. That way, you can form and cultivate meaningful supporter relationships through efficient communication.

What Is A Nonprofit Marketing Plan?

A nonprofit marketing plan is a document that outlines the promotional channels, strategies, and metrics your team will use to spread your mission. This document acts as a roadmap for promoting your initiatives. It provides specific branding guidelines to ensure every piece of marketing collateral is consistent and accurately reflects your organization.

Everyone working at the organization should have access to your nonprofit marketing plan. This allows them to refer to your objectives and align their activities accordingly.

How to Create a Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Especially if you’re a smaller organization, you’re up against established organizations. In other words, you have to go above and beyond to stand out and strengthen brand awareness. So let’s look at five key steps you should take when crafting your nonprofit marketing plan.

Follow these steps to create your nonprofit marketing plan.

1. Conduct a marketing audit.

Unless you’re just now launching your nonprofit, you likely already have marketing experience. That means you have a foundation to build off. Start crafting your nonprofit marketing plan by assessing your past campaigns. Getting Attention’s nonprofit marketing plan guide suggests that you answer questions such as:

  • Did you achieve the goals you set? If not, how far short did you fall?
  • What platforms did you use?
  • What key performance metrics (KPIs) did you track? Did they accurately gauge success?
  • What strategies should you use again, and what should you do differently next time?
  • Can you reuse any of the marketing materials for future campaigns?

These questions will help you understand where you’re currently excelling and falling short with your marketing efforts.

2. Define your brand.

You’ll want to create a brand style guide as part of your nonprofit marketing plan. This will keep your marketing assets consistent, helping to establish your brand identity. Define elements such as your:

  • Narrative and voice: Ask yourself what you want your nonprofit to be known for. Do you want to come across as a warm and compassionate nonprofit that provides families with a haven in their time of need? Or maybe you want to come across as a headstrong, no-nonsense team that will fight for families when they need it most. Choose your narrative and a voice that communicates that.
  • Colors: Kwala’s nonprofit branding guide explains that most organizations use 2-3 colors, including one primary color and one or two neutral accent colors. Think carefully about what colors are associated with your cause and will elicit the appropriate emotions. For instance, red can symbolize urgency and is commonly used with health and humanitarian relief organizations.
  • Typography: You’ll want to select specific fonts to use in your marketing materials and define in which contexts to use each one. Similar to colors, different fonts elicit different emotions depending on whether they look more playful or sophisticated.

Staying consistent will help supporters remember your brand, making it easier for them to recognize your marketing materials.

3. Define your audience.

Knowing who you’re trying to reach with your promotional materials will help you choose the right channels and messages for them. Based on your current audience, create personas that explain your typical supporters’:

  • Age range
  • Traits and motivations
  • Preferred communication methods
  • Giving preferences

Ideally, you’ll want to create a persona for your average donor, volunteer, advocate, and other supporters. Doing so will empower you to craft messages that resonate with different groups of people more meaningfully.

4. Choose your marketing channels.

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, figure out how you’ll reach them. Your nonprofit marketing plan should define the channels you’ll use to spread your message. While there are plenty out there to choose from, here are a few common ones you might employ:

  • Social media. A share button is a powerful tool. Determine which platforms your audience actively uses. Within your nonprofit marketing plan, lay out which platforms your marketing team should use and the types of messages that should be shared on each one. You’ll also want to set ground rules for interacting with followers. If you’re crafting a plan for a specific campaign, you can even include a posting schedule.
  • Google Ad Grants and Microsoft Grants. Paid search engine marketing is a powerful tool. Programs like Microsoft Ad Grants and Google Grants provide these typically-expensive resources to nonprofits free of charge. Through these programs, you’ll receive free funding to spend on paid search ads and amplify content from your website.
  • Direct mail. An awful lot of people still prefer handwritten postcards and letters. It provides a personal touch that can’t be replicated in the digital space. Include guidelines for what types of outreach you’ll send via direct mail, such as thank-you letters, campaign flyers, and project brochures.
  • Email. This is a go-to platform for nonprofit marketers because it lets you simultaneously connect with all types of supporters. Plus, most email marketing platforms allow you to segment your email lists, so you can craft more personalized outreach for each type of supporter. Define guidelines for your newsletter and any other outreach you’ll send via email.

With the expanding digital marketing space, the list of marketing platforms never stops growing! And while you’ll certainly want to use multiple channels, be selective in the ones you choose. Otherwise, you risk spreading yourself too thin. Instead of posting the same generic appeal across all platforms, you’ll need to adjust your messages based on each platform.

5. Select key performance indicators.

Your nonprofit marketing plan isn’t quite complete yet! You should include which KPIs you’ll use to measure your success. Note that you’ll want to break down your nonprofit’s metrics for each platform. Here are some common ones you might include:

  • Conversions. This is the number of desired actions someone takes to support your work. Great for any platform, this metric might include donations, volunteer registrations, or email newsletter sign-ups.
  • Click-through rate (CTR). Specific to search engine ads and email marketing, your CTR measures the ratio of users who click a specific link to the total number of users who viewed it.
  • Social media engagement. Get specific with these metrics by monitoring your likes, shares, and comments. Some social media platforms will even provide you with additional metrics like impressions to gauge your digital reach.

Tracking the right analytics will take the guesswork out of your performance. In your nonprofit marketing plan, list out the exact metrics you want to monitor, so you’re not scrambling to correct your strategies if your outreach underperforms.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

Nonprofit Marketing Ideas: Promote Your Cause Effectively – Dive into the basics of nonprofit marketing and learn unique strategies for promoting your mission with this guide.

40+ Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits to Spread Your Mission – Fold these ideas into your strategies and create a more robust nonprofit marketing plan.

Healthcare Website – Nonprofit Catalog

With a strong digital presence, your healthcare organization can connect with new patients, provide educational resources for the public, and even drive donations for your mission-driven cause. Explore the basics of healthcare website design and the tools you need to bring your digital presence to life. 

What is a healthcare website?

According to Morweb, a healthcare website is a digital hub that serves your target audience. Whether you’re a doctor’s office, disease prevention organization, or nonprofit advancing women’s health in your local community, you’ll need a way to connect with your patients, clients, or constituents online. Plus, a website can help people unfamiliar with your organization learn more, sign up for your services, or otherwise get involved. 

The exact content and resources your healthcare website will offer the public depends on your function in the community. For example, a health nonprofit will need a robust online donation page to advance its mission forward, while a doctor’s office will need a private patient portal to securely book appointments. To narrow down your content, reflect on how your website fits into your broader strategy to connect with the public. 

Common resources that healthcare organizations provide to their target audience through their healthcare website include:

  • A “Contact Us” page to help the public connect with your organization
  • An “About Us” page to provide background information on your organization and its purpose
  • A blog to provide updates on your organization and increase your brand visibility
  • Patient portals for signing up for appointments, paying bills, and more
  • Directions to your different facilities 

These resources will help your existing constituents develop strong relationships with your organization and allow prospective constituents to better understand your organization’s role. Over time, remember to review and refresh these resources so they stay up to date. This will ensure that your website features factual information so users don’t get frustrated by following the wrong directions to your office or emailing an outdated address. 

How do I design a healthcare website? 

Even if you don’t have previous web development experience, designing a website doesn’t have to be difficult. The right tools and strategies can get you started. Let’s take a closer look at how you can build a beautiful website in just a few steps. 

Follow these tips to design a comprehensive healthcare website.

Choose a healthcare-specific CMS

While you can build your healthcare website from scratch, this process is time-consuming and requires extensive coding knowledge. Instead, work with a content management system (CMS) with healthcare-specific features. A CMS, or website builder, is a user-friendly interface that provides all the features you need to bring your site to life, from building secure patient portals to developing a blog. 

Incorporate your healthcare organization’s branding

Branding sets your healthcare website apart from the crowd and boosts your digital visibility. Use your CMS to easily add in your organization’s visual brand elements like your color scheme, fonts, tone, and impactful images that relate to your mission. Branding gives a unified feeling to your healthcare website and boosts your organization’s credibility. 

Prioritize intuitive navigation

An important component of web accessibility is prioritizing smooth navigation. This means that users should be able to find the content they’re looking for without doing too much digging. Make your healthcare website easy to navigate by adding the following elements:

  • A navigation menu with workable links to your most important web pages
  • Clear headings and subheadings to organize your content
  • Minimalistic design to avoid clutter

If your organization accepts donations to help keep your doors open, call attention to your donation page using bold call-to-action buttons. Many of your supporters will be navigating to your website specifically to donate, so this streamlines the process of giving to your cause. 

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to create a comprehensive healthcare website for your audience! 

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog

6 Types of Nonprofit Web Design and When to Use Them – Use this guide to dive deeper into web design to perfect your digital presence. 

Graphic Design for Nonprofits: What To Know & 9 Free Tools – Learn how to make beautiful graphic designs to enhance your website. 

Your fundraising case for support should be a guiding document for all campaigns you conduct.

Fundraising Case for Support — Nonprofit Catalog

When asking potential donors to support your cause, you need to present them with compelling reasons why — What challenge are you working to overcome? What are your nonprofit’s plans to tackle it? How will donations drive impact towards that goal?

These questions and more should be answered in your case for support.

What is a case for support?

A case for support is your core message and set of reasons why potential supporters should donate to your current fundraising campaign. An effective case for support lays out exactly what donations to your campaign will accomplish so that donors will feel motivated to give.

A case for support is typically distilled into a central document and adapted into a variety of printed and digital supporting documents, mailers, slide decks, and more. It provides your fundraising team with the central narrative and key details they need, ensuring that all messaging (whether in conversations with donors or in broad marketing materials) is fully aligned with the campaign’s purpose and goals.

Essential Elements of a Case for Support

To create a compelling argument for your campaign and inspire donations, clearly communicate these essential elements in your case for support:

An effective nonprofit case for support should include these key elements.
  • The campaign’s purpose. What’s the challenge you’re working to address? Why does it matter?
  • Your solution and plan. How will your nonprofit address this challenge? What impact will your campaign have on your community?
  • Urgency. Why is now the time for your campaign and proposed solution?
  • Your unique position. Why is your organization up to the task? How have you driven impact in the past?
  • Costs and goals. How much will your plan cost? How much money do you need to raise to cover those costs? How will you raise that money from various sources?
  • How donors can help. What are the ways that donors can help drive impact via your campaign?

Underpinning these different elements, your case for support needs to clearly reflect your nonprofit’s unique voice, vision for the future of your community, and your priorities as an organization. The exact format and sections you use might vary based on the fundraising context, but if you can clearly show donors everything they need to know about your plan and why your nonprofit is worthy of support, you can drive amazing results.

When to Develop a Nonprofit Case for Support

Nonprofits most commonly create cases for support for large-scale campaigns (like capital campaigns) to help clarify their messaging while discussing the project with high-impact prospects. But cases for support can be extremely helpful in all kinds of situations Here are a few examples:

  • Campaign-specific case for support. This sets out the campaign’s purpose, goals, impact, and how donations will drive that impact.
  • Prospect-specific case for support. This document is highly tailored to a single prospect to reinforce their connection to your mission.
  • Event-specific case for support. This resource can be created to establish standard messaging to be used for an event, like a large annual gala.
  • General case for support. An all-purpose case for support more broadly explains your mission and how donations drive it forward. It can be used for general fundraising campaigns and adapted for more specific contexts.

How to Develop a Nonprofit Case for Support: 5 Steps

According to the fundraising experts at Graham-Pelton, these are the 5 key steps for developing a compelling case for support:

1. Define the purpose and audience.

Determine the specific context for this case for support—for instance, a specific campaign, individual prospect, event, or general use case—and its intended audience.

It’s important to understand who you’re hoping to motivate with your case for support so you can tailor the story it tells and the details it emphasizes to best appeal to them. Even for a general use case for support, it can be helpful to define a donor persona and write with their demographics, average gift amount, motivations, and interests in mind.

2. Gather a writing team.

You’ll need a team to write an effective case for support, ideally with a range of perspectives from across your organization. Leaders and board members, on-the-ground staff, fundraisers, and volunteers or advocates for your nonprofit can all bring helpful insights to create a well-rounded case for support that will serve its purpose.

If you’re developing a capital campaign case for support, you’ll seek input from external stakeholders like constituents and donors in a planning or feasibility study after you have an initial draft that you want to test out.

3. Tell your story.

Outline the core story that you want to tell based on the case’s purpose and audience. Try to create a narrative throughline in your story that encourages emotional connection and will show donors the role they’ll play in driving it forward.

Work with your team to create a first draft of your core narrative, gather feedback, make revisions, and repeat. You should end up with a story that clearly communicates why your campaign is important, what it will accomplish, and how donors will be a part of the solution.

4. Expand your story with supporting details.

Fill in your emotionally compelling story with additional details and numbers to create a complete, watertight case for support. Details can come from:

  • Statistics about the challenge your campaign (or overall mission) is addressing
  • Your overall strategic plan and specific program plans
  • Relevant budgets and financial projections
  • Actual stories, testimonials, and statistics about your programs and impact

Remember to tailor your details to best appeal to your specific audience. For instance, grateful patients might be most interested in a healthcare institution’s new research initiatives. Alumni might be most interested in the positive impacts of their alma mater’s athletic department on other aspects of the school’s operations.

5. Put it all together with visuals.

Once you have a finished draft that’s been through multiple rounds of revisions and input from a variety of different perspectives, you’re ready to put it all together. Compile the case for support into a finished document, and gather visual elements like photos, brand collateral, and infographics that can be used in different versions that you create. Brochures, one-pagers, digital versions, and more can all be developed out of the central case for support.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

The Top 4 Governance Mistakes that Nonprofit Boards Make – Do you serve on a nonprofit’s board of directors? Learn the most common governance pitfalls to avoid.

Why Donor Qualification Is Key to Fundraising Success – Understanding which donors to reach out to and when will help you fundraise more efficiently.